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The United States National Under 20 Women’s Team was the second nation to arrive in this country for the upcoming CONCACAF Under 20 Women’s Championship which kicks off with a double header featuring the hosts at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Thursday from 4pm.

The US team arrived in Port of Spain on Friday evening and will be based at the Hilton Trinidad alongside fellow Group B teams Mexico, Nicaragua and Jamaica. The Canada, Jamaica and Mexican teams are scheduled to arrive on Monday. Haiti was the first team to arrive, coming in on Thursday before their opening clash with Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday at 6:30pm.

Us head coach Jitka Klimkova selected Sixteen collegians and four youth club players — defender Naomi Girma (California Thorns FC), midfielder Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado), midfielder Brianna Pinto (NTH Tophat) and forward Sophia Smith (Real Colorado), all high school seniors — made the final cut. The 17-year-old Smith, recently named 2017 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year, is the youngest player on the squad. Smith, Pinto and Grima were born in 2000, making them eligible for the 2020 U-20 World Cup as well.

“We’re always talking about finding the correct balance between development and winning,” said Klimkova. “Of course, we always want to win, but we also want to create an environment for the players so that they can develop to their maximum potential. Continued development also means winning, especially when we get to the World Cup qualifying tournament.”

The US are the 2015 Concacaf Under 20 Women’s champions and their current side includes defenders Tierna Davidson and Kiara Pickett, midfielder Savannah DeMelo and forward Ashley Sanchez who were part of the USA’s 2015 winning team. Midfielder Savannah DeMelo DeMelo and UCL forward Sanchez played in the 2016 World Cup in Papua New Guinea.

Meantime, Costa Rica, T&T’s second match opponents on January 20th, completed two wins against Jamaica in San Jose last week, winning 1-0 and 5-1.

“The victory is very important,” midfielder Mariela Campos said after the second match. “The goals give us a lot confidence and etc… I think that it is very important, but, more than the victory, which was obviously something very important, we know that we have to try various lineups and see how we are getting our rhythm, so that was important.” And defender Maria Paula Coto Coto realizes that the Ticas’ road to a third-ever U-20 Women’s World Cup appearance will not be a simple one and that even more effort is required.

“We go into [the tournament] motivated and obviously knowing that we have to work a lot because it’s a different level there,” she finished. “We are going to continue preparing ourselves for what is coming up.”

T&T head coach Jamaal Shabazz named a 22-player squad on Thursday to contest the upcoming championship. The T&T team continued its preparations with a session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday and will also train at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Saturday. They move into camp at the Radisson Hotel on Tuesday.

Team member Natisha John, speaking on Thursday, said she was quietly confident that the T&T team could complete a triumphant run in the upcoming competition.

“I am privileged and ecstatic to be a part of this team and representing Trinidad and Tobago. We are going to make this a milestone in Trinidad and Tobago’s history because personally over the years I have played for the National youth teams and I believe that this group of players has the most potential to make a statement in this competition,” John said.

We want the people of this country to appreciate our hard work and dedication and to please come out and support us starting from January 18th in making this an unforgettable event. Thank You to all the coaches and staff who have helped us during this journey and we are know we are going to do our very best to come out victorious,” added the Trinity Nationals player who hails from Kelly Village.